'It’s a big fat snowball this week': Canceled events in Denver hurting local businesses

Posted at 1:40 AM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 04:45:33-04

DENVER -- March Madness has been replaced with sadness from fans across the Denver metro as well as disbelief from those working in the service industry.

"It’s a big, fat snowball this week. It just keeps coming at you," said Shelley Armand, general manager of Blake Street Tavern.

Fears of the spread of the novel coronavirus, and the disease it causes, COVID-19, suspended the NBA and NHL seasons on Wednesday. On Thursday, the NCAA decided to cancel the men's and women's basketball tournament, leaving some bars, like Blake Street Tavern, losing their identity for a while.

"We are a sports bar without sports right now," Armand said.

Coohills, a French inspired restaurant located across the street from the Pepsi Center is also feeling the heat. Owner Tom Coohill said they've lost about 50% of their business since last week.

"We do a lot of à la carte and pregame business. Obviously, the pregame business is gone because they shut down the NBA in the NHL," Coohill said.

The economics goes beyond sports.

A representative for the Denver Convention Center said they’ve had nine cancellations since the novel coronavirus arrived Denver. VISIT DENVER projects that from just four major events being canceled, the city would lose out on some $80,000,000. They are hoping to reschedule those events to a later date.

Coohill told Denver7 the canceled conventions has a ripple effect on his business.

"We also do a lot of a private events for companies. A lot of the companies were from out of town or out of the country, (they) we’re not able to get here so they were all canceled because all of these conventions. So, we weren’t able to do those private events," Coohill said.

Both Armand and Coohill said they have no plans to temporarily close. Armand says Blake Street Tavern may need to cutback staff hours but will not lay anyone off.